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There are different ways of viewing “courage”. To some, courage is appearing fearless, strong and invincible when faced with conflict. To me, courage is more about being willing to acknowledge my fears and show my vulnerability. This is the courage that’s necessary to build connections across conflict and differences.

Sometimes I am able to be courageous and sometimes I am not. At times, it feels less frightening to steer away from confrontation than face it head on. Often, it’s fear of losing a relationship that makes it difficult to confront someone I care about. My experience has shown me, however, that failing to confront someone directly out of fear of losing a relationship is in itself destructive to the relationship. If being candid with someone threatens the relationship, the relationship can’t be that strong.

Some of us have built up walls of defense because of hurts that happened years ago, maybe even in childhood. Those walls served an important purpose at the time they were built. Unfortunately, we often maintain our defenses even when they’re no longer necessary. What was once an effective coping or survival mechanism can become maladaptive. The walls that kept out pain can end up serving to keep love and connection from coming in. It takes courage to come out from behind concrete walls and risk the pain and hurt that are a part of life.

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live and love.